Gumdrop LaneThe Best of Adults Playing TeensLaura Kadner

It might be one of my secret goals in life to play a teenager on a high school drama on TV or in a movie. Some would say my time has passed, as I am well beyond my teen years. But to those nay-sayers, I say nay to you! Some of our most beloved and best teens on TV and film were full-grown adults who happened to capture the spirit of the American teen far better than an actual and authentic teenager ever could. Please enjoy this selection of some of the best adults playing teens in the business.

Stacey Dash in Clueless

dash clueless

I saw this movie as a child and when you’re a kid, teenagers look so old and sophisticated – and that’s because some of them actually are so old. Stacey was able to express her teen queen pizzaz so well because she was 28 years old at the time of playing a 16-year-old Dione “Dee” Davenport. Yes, apparently her character had a last name. I would’ve felt so much better about my 16-year-old awkward frizzy self had I known Dee was really a fully-formed adult at the time of her portrayal.

What was Stacey doing when she was really a teenager?

dash teen

Being on The Cosby Show, duh. Well, at least for one episode.

Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls

regina george

When Rachel McAdams portrayed the ultimate teen queen of mean, Regina George, she was actually 25 years old. That’s how she was really able to do car commercials in Japan without flunking out of school.

rachel hs

In reality, during her real teenage years Rachel was livin‘ it up in Canada, figure skating and directing children’s theatre.

jett regina

But she started playing a teen right when she hit 20, with a gig on The Famous Jett Jackson. The perfect training ground to work up to the honor of playing Regina George.

Keiko Agena in Gilmore Girls

lane kim

Keiko played Lane Kim, the best friend we all wanted to have, who was Rory Gilmore’s BFF on Gilmore Girls. The only thing is, we would’ve been one of the few 15 year olds around with a 27-year-old best gal pal. Although I still kind of want her as my best friend these days, because everyone needs a bestie who got married in a freakin‘ helicopter over a freakin‘ volcano. Yeah.

When she was really a high school student she was living in Hawaii, attending high school like a regular girl.

keikoteen copy

She started acting when she was 10 and made her TV debut at 20 playing, of course, a teenager.

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  • ificouldfly

    Katie Leclerc in Switched at birth :)

  • Axelle Roux

    How about MAYA in pretty little liars ?
    She’d played KENDRA in Buffy the vampire slayer.

    How about Cory (RIP) in Glee with Finn Hudson ?

  • Samantha Pabisch

    Alan Ruck – Cameron in Ferris Bueller

  • Laura Gatannah

    How about everybody in “Grease”? :)

  • Rachael Smith

    Don’t forget about all the 20-somethings playing teenagers on Glee. It blew my mind when I found out that Harry Shum, Jr. was like, 28.

  • Alexis Kropp-Kwon

    Sue Heck from The Middle!

    • Sarah Zorn

      She was one of the first people I thought of!

  • Alli Deering

    How can you write this article without mentioning Gabrielle Carteris?!?!?

  • Angela Caligiuri Bernardo

    The guy who played Miley Cyrus’ big bro in Hannah Montanna was like 30something! Completely shocked me when I found out!

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